Gareth Southgate is struggling to understand why David Wheater was called into the senior England squad for Wednesday's trip to Belarus.
The Middlesbrough defender was added to Fabio Capello's travelling party having impressed for the Under 21s in their successful European Championship play-off against Wales.
He played the full 90 minutes in the second leg of that tie on Tuesday before immediately joining up with the senior side for World Cup qualifying duty.
He was, however, forced to watch on from the sidelines in Minsk as England cruised to a 3-1 success, leading his club manager to question why he needed to be there at all.
Southgate said: "I have to be very careful about my reaction. I don't want to detract from what was a marvellous England performance.
"I am absolutely delighted for David on a personal basis because I know how much it means to a young player to be called into the full squad.
"But as manager of Middlesbrough, I am in a situation where I am trying to prepare for a Premier League game.
"So I am not too impressed when one of my players is asked to take a flight to Belarus to watch the senior squad play, immediately after taking part in an U21 match."
"It's great for David, but it's an example of circumstances where we as a club have to defend ourselves.
"As Middlesbrough manager I feel that we have to fight our own corner.
"We are playing Chelsea at 12.45pm on Saturday and it's important to galvanise everything we can because we are playing one of the big boys.
"It's difficult to reason how if you have been playing in two games for the U21s and you have done your job, you can then be asked to watch the first team.
"You are either in one squad or you are in the other, for me."